On October 25, 2021, President Biden announced plans to revoke the current country-by-country travel restrictions to the United States which have been in place since January 2020. The order outlines new air travel policies for foreign travelers seeking to enter the United States as nonimmigrants, which relies primarily on COVID-19 vaccination status and effectively revokes Presidential Proclamations 9984, 9992, 10143, and 10199, all of which restricted entry to the United States from Brazil, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Schengen countries in Europe, Ireland, India and Iran.
Starting November 8, 2021, nonimmigrants entering the United States via air travel will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before boarding their flight. The existing requirement for all international travelers to provide a negative COVID-19 test within three days of travel will remain in place. There are a few exceptions to the vaccination requirement, including children under the age of 18 and some travelers with medical conditions. Any exempt travelers will be required to take a COVID-19 test one-day prior to their departure to the United States. Most people receiving exceptions will also be required to receive a full series of an approved COVID-19 vaccination within 60 days of arriving to the United States if they intend to remain in the United States for more than 60 days, and must comply with applicable health precautions such as testing, mask-wearing, self-quarantine and self-isolation. Exemptions include:
- Children under the age of 18;
- Foreign nationals arriving from countries with low vaccine availability (less than 10 percent total vaccination rate of population);
- People with medical contraindications;
- Humanitarian or emergency exemptions;
- Those who participated in COVID-19 clinical trials; and
- Air and sea crewmembers, U.S. Armed Forces and immediate family, and certain diplomatic or U.N. travelers.
There are no religious or moral objection exemptions.
U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents/Immigrant Visa Holders are not impacted by the Proclamation.
Digital or paper documentation will be accepted by airlines to verify vaccination status, but must include the foreign national’s biographical information, name of official source issuing the record, vaccine manufacturer, and date of vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that vaccines must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration or listed on the World Health Organization’s emergency use list. Currently, these vaccines include Janssen/Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covidshield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac.
Those who are currently present in a country subject to the COVID-19 travel bans will remain subject to the ban until November 8, 2021. Foreign nationals with a valid visa and proof of vaccination will be permitted to enter the United States on or after November 8. Due to an anticipated major influx of visa issuance after November 8, foreign nationals should expect delays at U.S. Consulates and Embassies when scheduling visa appointments.
Burr & Forman’s Immigration Team regularly monitors immigration developments. If you require assistance with immigration-related matters, contact Melissa Azallion Kenny (MAkenny@burr.com); Anna Scully (Ascully@burr.com); Miya Moore (MMoore@burr.com); or Jon Eggert (JEggert@burr.com) on the Burr & Forman LLP immigration team.
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